Everyone seems to claim they have the exciting new format Rush Poker solved and the advice is very contradictory. The fact is that its a new game that will change rapidly in the coming months, but we have got one of the big winning regulars, Rahul Maitra, to give us his insights on the game they call poker on steroids!
Rush Poker is an exciting new game format played at Full Tilt Poker in which as soon as you fold your hand you are moved to a new table to face a new set of randomly positioned players. Four-tabling full ring Rush Hold’em is the equivalent of twenty-tabling regular full ring poker (approximately 1200 hands per hour). The focus of this article is the strategy adjustments Rush requires compared to a standard full ring game.
The first point to make is Rush is in most respects the same game as a standard full ring game. Having watched a few beginners jump into Rush the first mistake I see is overadjusting, either acting too tight looking for super-premium hands or playing wildly as the action jumps at them. The first fundamental rule of Rush is that generally you must play your standard full ring game. That being said, adjustments to your standard game will benefit you in Rush Poker.
Rush requires you to adjust to a different set of dynamics. In a normal ring game you have history or reads on all your opponents as your session progresses, and your actions vary to reflect new information. In Rush you may not have such reads.
Because of the varied positions and players in each hand, each hand acts as its own individual session, rather than part of the ebb and flow of a standard table dynamic. Since you have less information on your opponents, analyzing the betting patterns, reasoning out the street-by street action, and making sense of each hand individually is supremely important.
In the first days of Rush, there were no reads, no HUDs and very little information on the players. Good players would use their anonymity to three bet, four bet and squeeze very wide in profitable spots. As more information has come into the game some of this aggression has been tempered, especially at the higher stakes where the player pools are smaller. A good Rush player will use notes and HUDs to attempt to determine which players will recognize and react appropriately to such aggression and which players will not.
A final important dynamic is the variability of speed of the games. You can effectively slow down from twenty-tabling to four-tabling when you play tricky hands by ceasing to use the quick-fold button. If you are in a big pot or have a tough decision, slow down the game and let yourself concentrate on the decision at hand.
Position is more important in Rush than in regular poker. The first reason is detailed above, the less history between players increases the importance of the betting patterns and information learned in each individual hand. The second reason is to the extent you are anonymous against an opponent, they will tend to believe your bets and raises and so bluffing will be more effective when you sense weakness in an opponent. They will have to treat you as a standard opponent who will bet when he has a hand and will be less aggressive at bluffing and semibluffing in appropriate spots. Finally blind-stealing will be more effective for similar reasons.
Position in blind battles is important as well. I use this two ways: (a) from the big blind, frequently raising an unknown small blind’s limp and (b) three-betting a weak regular’s small-blind open more frequently than in a standard ring game. These actions are difficult to exploit because there is no blind battle history or future with the opponent.
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Stack sizes are trickier to negotiate in Rush compared to standard poker. In a regular game you have a sense of what everyone’s stacks are based on from previous hands. The stacks and players change in Rush so you must force yourself to be aware each hand of the depth of all relevant players. I use the auto-rebuy feature to keep my stack at least 100 blinds deep. Stacks get deep quickly in Rush. You must do self-analysis to determine whether you are skilled 200 blinds deep or more. If you are, you may have a huge edge versus less experienced deep-stack players. If you are not, I recommend cashing out every time your stack hits 150 blinds. You should wait four or five hands after you last pay the blind, leave the table and reenter with a fresh 100 big blind stack. If you are unsure whether you are a good deep-stack player, err on the side of playing 100 blinds deep. Hold’em Manager has a very useful report “Stack Size” which breaks down your profits by the depth of your stack.
The minimum buy-in for short stackers in Rush is 40 big blinds, compared to 20 big blinds for standard ring. 40 big blinds is a difficult stack size to play correctly and many short stackers are playing the deeper short stack as though it were a 20 big blind stack. By adjusting to their overly light shoving ranges you can profit against these short stackers.
Tilt hits more quickly in Rush given the incredibly fast action. If you are not experienced I suggest an immediate two minute cool down break after suffering a bad beat for full stacks. Because of the nature of the game you are able to sit out and jump back in within fifteen minutes without paying any extra blinds. I also suggest a seven buy-in stop loss per day, as it is difficult to play your best when losing and self-assessment can be very difficult.
Mental fatigue reaches more quickly in Rush because of the higher action to waiting ratio. I suggest shorter sessions and more frequent breaks. With the adjustments this article suggests, Rush can be an exciting and profitable game for you.
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